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Why fairytales need to be retold

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This week both Keira Knightley and Kristen Bell spoke out about their concerns surrounding Disney princesses, and I can't help but agree.

When the debate surrounding Disney princesses took off this week, I was forced to take a step back and ask myself what exactly it is about all these fairytales that children (and the occasional adult) enjoy watching so much.

Snow White

After some introspection, it struck me like lightning.

Kissing someone while sleeping, or in this case assumed dead, falling in love with a man you saw in your dreams, marrying someone after only one day of knowing him or running away from home for a guy you don't even know yet set absolutely terrible examples for girls and young women.

However, as these stories have been told for centuries now, they are accepted without a second thought.

Indeed, it is fair to say that Disney films have made my, and many others, childhood a better one, providing some of the first sources for our imagination and dreams.

As a result, there is an argument that maybe we should leave fairy tales alone and let them keep doing their magic.

However, on second thoughts, there is a stronger argument for the idea that we need to retell them.  

Stories like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and Beauty and the Beast are such a big part of our childhoods that it is too easy to oversee the concerning messages that they express.

In addition to portraying unrealistic beauty expectations, which opens up a whole host of other concerns, all these princesses and fairytales have one disturbing thing in common; they are passive damsels who can only be saved by charming men.

Snow White did not object to getting kissed by a total stranger while she was sleeping, instead happily accompanying him back to his castle to get married despite only knowing him for an hour, maybe less.

In the same vein, Sleeping Beauty trusted a random man purely because she had a dream of him the night before while Ariel gave a huge part of herself away for someone who didn't even know she existed.

All of these princesses are portrayed as vulnerable and helpless damsels who desperately need a man to feel safe and content. 

We are raised within the Disney reality of falling head over heels for the first charming man to walk into our lives and begin to believe that it is okay for them to kiss us suddenly because that is what we have seen in films for as long as our brains started to gather information.

But it is not okay.

We might believe it is adventurous and romantic to follow an attractive guy you don't even know in hope that we will fall suddenly and wildly in love with each other but that is absolutely not how things are supposed to go.

While it may be presented as romantic in Sleeping Beauty, it wouldn't be okay if someone you weren't attracted to kissed you while you were sleeping.

Equally, we shouldn't assume that having a beast imprison you is totally fine so long as he is a rich prince, who will one day make you into a princess, and he turns out to be a good guy in the end.

Although some people still find magic in these stories and believe Disney is a legend which provides timeless joy, the rest of us are more concerned with how far the outdated ideologies within them will go. 

Here, it is up to us to retell these stories to both ourselves and younger audiences to make them aware of how outdated and irrelevant these princess and fairytales are in our modern, independent lives. 

Ultimately, we need to realise we don't need a man to save us.

 

 

 

 

 

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